Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Regulating air emissions from cannabis production in Metro Vancouver

It should come as no surprise to anyone who lives in BC that cannabis is odorous from cultivation, processing, and distribution to final consumption.

The Metro Vancouver regional district is responsible for regulating air quality and emissions in our region which includes the release of volatile organic compound and odours.

Since the recreational use of cannabis was approved by the federal government, regional and municipal governments have been having to play catch-up with laws, bylaws, and regulations.

Metro Vancouver is currently working on a proposed emission regulation framework for cannabis production and processing operations in our region.

While reviewing the proposal, I was surprised to see the level of VOCs that cannabis production creates. VOCs “may contribute to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.” This can have an adverse impact on human health.

Example VOC emissions from some plants grown commercially in Metro Vancouver. Select image to enlarge.

Like other industrial and agricultural production, odour externalities generate a large amount of complaints from people who are exposed to them.

In Langley, with its large agricultural land base, odours from agricultural production has been an ongoing source of tension.

With one of the largest industrial areas, Campbell Heights which is located adjacent to Brookswood and near Langley City, there has been concerns expressed by people in the area about the impacts to air quality by industrial operations.

The cannabis production lifecycle can occur on both agricultural and industrial lands.

Metro Vancouver is exploring the following measures to control emissions from large-scale cannabis production:

  • Enclose all cannabis processing in structures, including waste management activities, with systems to prevent air from the inside of structures to be released without filtration to the outside.
  • Use activated carbon in possible combination with other filters to treat air inside production facilities, and air being released outside of facilities.
  • Prevent uncontrolled release of emissions from production facilities.
  • Require producers to provide a comprehensive air emission management plan to Metro Vancouver.
  • For outdoor cultivation, use temporary containment during periods of peak VOC emissions.
  • Restrict the use of odour masking and neutralizing agents outdoors.
  • Locate facilities at least 200 metres away from residential areas, hospitals, schools, daycares, playgrounds and seniors care facilities.

The next step for Metro Vancouver will be to get feedback on the proposed air emission regulatory framework. More information is available from Metro Vancouver’s latest Climate Action Committee agenda.

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